Just a little more than a year after touting its move from Microsoft Exchange to Google Gmail, Serena Software has decided to make the switch back to Microsoft and dump its Google Apps support.
Unlike the University of California, Davis, which dumped Gmail over security and privacy concerns earlier this month, Serena's reason was much more old school and basic. In short, it all came down to cost. Microsoft came back to Serena with an offer the ALM (application lifecycle management) software company could not afford to refuse, sources said.
Indeed, sources close to the situation said Microsoft offered Serena a price point for its enterprise software that included on-premise software, Microsoft's new Business Productivity Online Service Suite (BPOS) and migration services. The deal was simply too good to pass up. Microsoft Business Productivity Online Standard Suite is a set of messaging and collaboration solutions hosted by Microsoft, and consists of Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Office Live Meeting and Office Communications Online.
That Microsoft is willing to go toe-to-toe with Google and essentially "give away" its hosted solutions signals the company's sincerity about staking a claim in the cloud computing/software-as-a-service (SAAS) space. Sources said price and total cost of ownership was the reason Serena left Microsoft for Google, and it is the same reason the enterprise software maker decided to come back to the software giant. Yet, sources said the Google solution has been working well at Serena and users were happy with it.
The bad news for Google comes on the eve of its annual Google I/O developer conference, where the company shows off its new tools, APIs, frameworks, etc., to its developer base.
However, though Serena was not necessarily a huge customer win in terms of seats -- the Serena license is only for 1,000 users, whereas UC Davis had 30,000 users -- the deal was touted as a major win for Google in the enterprise. And, as a successful software company in its own right, Serena helped Google write the playbook for subsequent migrations.
In March of 2009 when the Serena migration to Google was complete, the company spoke with eWEEK about how smoothly the migration went, saying it took only three hours of dedicated work and two Serena IT workers.
At the time of Serena's migration to Gmail, Rene Bonvanie, then senior vice president of marketing at Serena (now no longer with the company), said Serena went with Gmail for two reasons. "The first is purely economic-we believe we can save the company $1 million in three years," he said.
And Serena's second reason for the migration had to do with the company's focus on moving its customers to the cloud. "We want to put our company into the cloud as well," Bonvanie said. "And we want to put all of our applications into the cloud. Mail is just one. ... You know how much we've been on the SAAS train. The Google experience is an example of putting the end user in the driver's seat because there are very few examples of applications that are as personal or affect people as much as e-mail."
Sources said as yet no time table has been set for when the migration back to Microsoft's solutions will begin, but the decision to move has been made. Serena initially announced its plans to switch to Google Apps in November of 2008.
Microsoft and Serena had not responded to requests for official comment by the time this story posted.